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Modern Retro Arcades

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ocb View Drop Down
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    Posted: 07 Dec 2021 at 8:38pm
Right - this is following on from a discussion in another part of the forum.

Up-front I'll say I'm trying to get a small local "retro arcade" up and running.

End goal is to have a place that folks have fun. like BITD. 

BITD doesn't mean just having BITD cabs though....(shock horror!)

It's a real genuine question - what's the secret sauce that you lot consider for a small scale retro arcade to be attractive, not just for the geeks - but the overall family etc?

1. Some real 70s and early classic golden age cabs, like Atari vector and stuff like SI, Pac Man, Frogger etc
2. Multi-cab sit down drivers
3. 2 player shooters
4. 2 player rhythm game
5. Candy-cabs playing the usual button mashers
6. Weirdo dedicated cabs
7. Something Star Wars related
8. Some pinball
9. Air hockey
10. Throwy basketball games
11. Crane picky-up 
12 Young kids rides
13. VR stuff
14. Modern augmented reality stuff


Me personally, I'd have just anything short of the early 90s - even electro-mechanical, but I get that's not everyone's taste...
Coin-op addict 1976-1983, 88-92, 2014-Present. Regional Atari (Pac-Man) Champion 1982. Utter failure at consoles & handhelds.WANTED - ATARI BREAKOUT RF CAGE!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ChrisBEANS Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2021 at 9:01pm
The key is variety… surely??

My bag is 90s stuff. A lot of people here prefer the 80s stuff. If you asked this question over at AO most people would be keen on Candy Cabs and highly technical Japanese SHMUPs. Look on a FGC Reddit people will want VS cabs, Vewlix cabs with modern fighters etc…

Pinball is another genre and fan base all over again.

Then ‘casuals’ or ‘family friendly’ stuff that’ll still appeal to your core audience would be as you say things like the Virtua Cops, Time Crisis shooters and Daytona and Sega Rally sit down cabs.
Big, flashy, accessible, and fun.

There is of course cross over between fans of all of the above, but if you try to be specific you risk losing the interest of certain sets of people.


There are also simple things you can do to keep interest up among regulars. High score competitions or tournaments maybe? Loyalty points or something similar?? Theme nights?? Movie screenings (no idea on the legality or regulation of this sort of thing)?!

Entirely dependent on where you’re looking to be based, you need to think about availability of food and drink etc. Would you provide, would it be locally available, would you allow outside food in??
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote neoretro Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2021 at 9:20pm
One thing I’ve learned is asking on here is the absolute worst market research you can do. And that is absolutely no offence to anyone on here.

But basically, you’re asking a load of people who love old arcade machines what arcade machines you should get. 99.99% of people on this forum will never visit your arcade. So asking us what we think is worth having in an arcade is basically giving you a false view.

The people you’ll need to keep your arcade going live with 20 minutes of your arcade. Ask them or find out what’s worked in another arcade locally.

But there’s very little benefit in finding out what people who won’t visit your arcade think should go in there.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ocb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2021 at 9:54pm
@Neoretro - agree completely about preaching to the converted on here, but there are plenty on here who regularly visit modern arcades and see what’s popular…not what us auld pharts want ;)

Where I am - far too much money and not enough variety for those looking for someone to host kids birthday parties etc. Hence my listing out what I see as the various categories of attractions, rather than me just listing every VAC and EM game I know from BITD ;)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Body pop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Dec 2021 at 10:05pm
Redemption machines and pushers if allowed,get the younger ones interested
Just going from experience of being in arcades these days
I’d say maybe a good selection of unique controlled games
Handle bars ,track balls ,steering wheels guns ,etc
Some cool pinballs and your sorted
But what would work in one place ,may not work in another I’d say
Good luck with it ,I’d say it’s a lot of people’s dreams .just don’t let it turn into a nightmare lol
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lix Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2021 at 12:21am
From living in an arcade as a kid to working in as a technician in one a couple of decades ago I had a pretty good appreciation of what was popular and what wasn't. There were times I used to beg the boss of the place I used to work in to terminate certain machines such as Steel Talons and Mad Dog McCree because they'de take 20p a week and I'de have to do so much maintenance and work to keep that 20p incoming. A lot of games that used to be really good earners back in the day got rapidly superseded by newer games and today just can't cut it with todays gamers.

Before we opened up our place I scouted out other large UK arcades and basically confirmed to myself what I already knew, that by and large the twin racers and shooters are the best cabs to get for the core appeal. Retro vintage stuff, as nice as it is, only certain people like us old farts will ever play them, and people my age (47) are in the minority at our place. Sure we've had a few people from UKVAC Facebook group pop by and they have a good go on everything.

The stand out vintage games for us are Ms. Pac man which is an original board in a small generic chip shop cab and a Taito Space Invaders cocktail. They are played loads by absolutely all ages, kids, students, oldsters, pretty much everyone. Star Wars gets a distant look in, not as popular as I would have hoped as it was certainly one of my favourites but some people do give it repeat goes. Tempest barely gets played but it's there purely for me.

Our most recent game is a Sega Maimai which can be very popular, some days it just doesn't get a moments rest with people queuing and taking turns to play it. We requests to get some kind of DDR or dance game a lot from that, so that would likely be our next game acquire.

Personally we'd prefer to aim towards the Barcade market rather than be absolutely family friendly so I've not really got any intentions of getting any redemption, cranes, or novelty stuff in. That said I'de be very tempted by a Namco Sweetlicks / Cracky Crab / Whac a Croc but probably just for me to play. Family entertainment stuff can be very random, my ex-boss has told me that some of his expensive new stuff gets barely any play, yet cheap knock off 'fishing tables' can pull in some real bucks.

Top ranking from most popular to least popular in our arcade:

joint #1 = Maimai / Time Crisis 2
Sega Rally Twin
Point Blank
Daytona USA Twin
House of the Dead 1
Sega Touring Cars
Midi Chipshop cab with Ms. Pac Man board
Space Invaders cocktail
Barracora pinball
F14 Tomcat pinball
Revenge from Mars pinball
4x Generic ex-Golden Tee cabs, various Fighter and puzzle games
Atari Star Wars UR
Crazy Taxi
2x New Astro City (various JAMMA boards)
2x Electrocoin Goliaths with Galaga and Final Fight
Atari Asteroids
AMR cab running Robotron
Sega Outrunners Midi UR
Atari Tempest
Electrocoin ZX2000 with Konami GT

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bones Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2021 at 1:24am
     You've always gotta have a swagged up pusher, guaranteed play, a machine I thought you couldn't beat when I first started working in arcades. The new 10ps killed them dead as true money makers but the 2p downgrade kept them alive. For most they were just luck but for the experts bitd on old 10ps they used to be a living paying the rent etc. #tag respect the pusher,the original arcade workhorse.
I've been looking for a Taito space invaders part 2 cocktail table cash box for years now😢😢😢
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chubsta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2021 at 8:59am
coin pushers, everyone loves them and they are guaranteed money, but only the 2p ones though, when I go on holiday you always see that heaving but the 10p one is just sat there. Lots of kiddie ticket games, keep the kids happy and the parents will spend their money too and be happy to go there. I think vintage games are too niche to be really worthwhile except in huge locations, people from forums like this will travel a long distance to play hundreds of old games but you need regular visitors, not 'once a year' guys and no-one will keep coming just to play Star Wars.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Infurious Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2021 at 10:06am
It's very much depends on your catchment area. As mentioned above, if starting off small(ish) you need plenty of footfall, not locked away on an industrial site, or similar. If you get a hold and brand recognition  then moving and expanding will make things easier as you can take a certain amount of clients with you.

It might be better to start with a bar/cafe style place with that retro theme. The vast amount of revenue would be generated via the main business and you can gauge how the machines are used, without throwing everything into one venture.

Also a big part is in advertising yourself. Don't just open a place and expect people to come. You really need to work hard to bring people in, especially over and over again. Swap out machines regularly so it's not just the same machines people see time and time again.

If having a large number of machines you can hook them up to a wifi service to check how many times each machine is played. That way you know the popular machines and what has to go.

Driving / shooters always seem to get people in, older retro probably not so much, unfortunately.

Always looking dead, defunct, or stripped arcade PCBs.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kev A Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2021 at 10:34am
I echo the above, a couple of the classics are fine, but there's a big difference in what passing family trade will be looking for and the 40+ geeks that go specifically to places like arcade club. 

Coin pushers are a great way to keep younger kids entertained while the adults play on something else, but stick to accessible games, rather than the hardcore fighters etc.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TheDaddy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2021 at 10:42am
Yeh i think you have to concider everything , Food (The last thing you want is a full day ticket and have to go out for lunch , Plus its additional revenue !) , parking , games ect. Agree with the above regarding trying o get lots for all age groups. And sod the kids I love coin pushers ! lol. Would you need a gambling licence if you had coin pushers though ???

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The seeker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2021 at 10:47am
Went to Center parks afew weeks back my son and I were waiting for the arcade to open the tec was fixing afew machines , I told him we played air hockey yesterday and the puck was very sticky, - filthy , thought I was helping , he just looked and said what do you want me to do :) sad really I was just trying to help , he didn’t look exactly rushed off his feet
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sbdesign Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2021 at 10:49am
I don't have an arcade (commercial) but do a decent collection we play weekly.
SOME POPULAR THINGS WE PLAY:

AIR HOCKEY - once you learn it properly its the most played by far, and such a great game.
Coin pusher (pac man ball) was popular before I sold it.
Classics for high scores - frogger / qix / space invaders / asteroids
Ridge racer - maybe because ive not had all my sega racers on recently. In fact only racer thats been on in 6 months.
Mortal Kombats and tekkens (SF will be popular, but ive never had it in a cab yet in 3 years - the day will come)

My favs of all time
like sega shooters etc, are great, but not addictive like above games.
Personally think the basket ball games are great but don't have one.
Football table another I don't have but is addictive.

Ultimately quick (for normal players not aliens) 80s games to challenge high scores
Then any physical games with wheels, guns, skateboards etc.

On freeplay - people love top skater, including the unexpected type that you think wouldn't.


Edited by Sbdesign - 08 Dec 2021 at 10:50am
Very busy with non arcade stuff at moment.
Tempted to sell a fair few machines in 2022
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Lardonate Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Dec 2021 at 12:37pm
How would having coin pushers work? You'd have to get a cat D gambling license from the council right? Pay duty on the machines etc. Unless you fill the things with tokens and make it amusement only perhaps? The moment you start giving out prizes of any form THE MAN wants to know about it.

I've read that having an alcohol license permits 2 cat D machines, which is why you see a pair of crappy slots in pubs. No reason you couldn't have a pusher and a crane I guess?

I'd prefer to avoid anything like that in our place though, bringing in any form of gambling into the place, however minor, is just something that rubs me the wrong way.
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